With its staggering 102Mp sensor, the Fujifilm GFX100 is a mirrorless medium-format camera that really pushes the boundaries. Medium-format cameras give you a much larger image than a full-frame camera – up to 70 per cent larger, in fact. They were once much more popular than today, with photography giants such as David Bailey and Terry O’Neill using the format as long ago as the 1960s. There’s something really beautiful about a photo shot in medium format. It gives you a wider field of view, but also the shallow depth of field and background compression you get with a telephoto, so it’s combining both types of lenses into one. Once you learn to spot the effect, you can easily tell a medium-format shot from full frame.
Strictly speaking, there’s no standard size for medium format, which means the size varies between manufacturers, but traditionally a medium-format camera has a larger sensor than that on a full-frame camera. However, one of Fujifilm’s great successes here is that it’s been able to keep the sensor size the same at 43.8mm x 32.9mm, which means the existing crop of Fujinon GF lenses will fit without any adapters. And if you fancy using some of the classic medium-format lenses, these will fit, too.
Made to last
To accommodate that big sensor, medium-format cameras generally have to be big, which is why the smaller sensor size not only unlocks a wealth of lenses right from the off, but also gives you a smaller, more manageable camera. So although the GFX 100 looks like the sort of beast you’d want to mount on a tripod most of the time, it’s actually light enough and so well-designed that using it handheld, even for longer periods of time, is not uncomfortable. And as it’s weather-sealed in 95 places, including the viewfinder, it’s fully prepared for whatever you want to throw at it.
That said, this is a camera that Fujifilm feels is more likely to be used in a studio setting rather than outside, and this is reflected in the design. It explains why the GFX 100 uses function buttons rather than dials. Thanks to controls that have been duplicated in both horizontal and vertical mode format, switching between landscape and portrait modes couldn’t get much easier. Also, the GFX 100 is taller than other Fujifilm cameras because it includes a slide-out battery tray beneath the body, which acts as a vertical grip.
When it comes to storage, despite the size of the image files, Fujifilm eschewed the new and speedier XQD and CFexpress cards, and has decided to stick with traditional SD card format. Thanks to the X-Processor 4, Fujifilm’s latest image processing engine, the GFX 100 is able to quickly optimise data from the sensor, so despite the massive amount of data involved, the processor is able to keep up. It also makes the transition from your existing camera slightly easier and cheaper.
This isn’t Fujifilm’s first medium-format camera. Its predecessor, the GFX 50, offered only half the resolution of the GFX 100 – but this new model wins in other ways, too. Phase detection auto-focus is now included, which means focusing is not only faster but also works well in low-light conditions.
The other big news is that five axis in-body image stabilisation has been added – an industry first for a camera with this sensor size. This was missing from the GFX 50 but Fujifilm reckons it provides a whopping 5.5-stops of stabilisation.
If you’re into video, there’s plenty more to like here, too. Able to record 4K video at 30fps, when you add in the benefits of the beautiful cinematic-like footage that you get with shooting in this format, that’s a big deal.
Other specs include a maximum continuous shooting speed of 5fps, a full edge-to-edge 5.76 million dot electronic viewfinder (EVF), and the option of a tilting EVF. You can also output your shots as 8- or 10-bit image files (which can be converted in-camera to 8- or 16-bit TIFF files).
Medium-format cameras are costly so they aren’t for everybody, but when quality and resolution really matter, you’ll love the stunning images you’re able to create. With their shallower depth of field, they are perfect for portraits and fashion. Indeed, for any kind of commercial work, there’s no beating medium format.
With the GFX 100, you can take advantage of image stabilisation and faster auto-focus and take one almighty step up, confident that the lenses you need are available from launch. If you’ve been contemplating switching to medium format, then here’s your answer. The GFX 100 doesn’t just give you great images, either – it looks the part, too. By combining slick textures with a two-tone design, this little beauty has an understated elegance that shows you mean business.
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